For this week’s article, I was all set to write a piece on my first impressions of the newest series to hit the US fall TV line-up. I already managed to binge on the first four episodes of Timeless and Frequency, the newest sci-fi titles from NBC and The CW respectively, saw a couple of Luke Cage installments on Netflix, and even managed to sneak into my crazy work-week the pilot of the new Mac Gyver on CBS, and the latest Sutherland, Designated Survivor.
Then I came across a new Fox TV release which made me reconsider the subject at hand – a series with the very familiar title of The Exorcist, based on the 1973 movie of the same name, and easily one of the scariest movies of all time. Who doesn’t remember that famous spider-walk scene down the stairs? I know my spine hairs are tingling at the moment as I look for an image to post here, so I’ll just use another related photo for more comical effect).
While I will never understand the psychology behind what causes humans to go out and actually pay good money to get frightened, the reality is that scary movies are big business, as evidenced by the need to re-tell Linda Blair’s torturous story not just once in another 2011 movie, but again in the aforementioned 22-episode TV series – talk about prolonging the agony. I can only guess that it is for the same reason some people do extreme sports or get on giant roller coasters, or unconsciously drive closer to bad road accidents just to get a glimpse of the slightest hint of blood, or even like to imagine worst-case scenarios of things in life that they have no immediate control over. Fear is an addiction, and Hollywood is cashing in on this drug.
Anyone who has ever seen a horror movie with other people know that what is scary for one person may not be the same for another. Incidentally, the reasons I mentioned above correspond to the three generally-accepted kinds of scary/horror movies in the popular market today. I imagine that those who like the adrenaline rush that comes with skydiving or bungee jumping might also enjoy serial-killer horror movies like Scream (1996) or The Cabin in the Woods (2012), because of the emotional and mental peaks and valleys that are usually distributed in generous installments throughout kinds these films. Blood-and-gore seekers probably go out for films like Saw (2004), Final Girls (2015), or Cabin Fever (2002) to satisfy their morbid fascination with internal organs, while worry-warts tend to internalize and be bothered by quietly introspective scary stories like The Others (2001), Oculus (2013), and The Amytiville Horror (1979).
Thus, this being Halloween week, I decided to dedicate an article to scary movies – the kind that I’ve been duped into seeing over the last few years because I didn’t know they were scary in the first place. I say “duped into” because I don’t usually go out to watch horror movies; I do not like scaring myself on purpose at any given day. There are movies I saw because friends forced me to, as was the case of the first Conjuring (2014), which I watched in the cinema with my best friend, or Insidious 2 (2015)I, which my ex made me see as part of a bet he won against me. However, the scariest movies I’ve seen are those I watched by myself.
The following are little-known movies which have kept me up for many nights following their viewing. Unlike the Conjuring or Insidious franchises, you probably would not have seen them, unless you are a hardcore horror-movie fan. I would assign another category to this kind of scary films – the silently scary ones that sneak up on you one day as you are taking a shower, or having trouble sleeping, or writing an article about horror movies.
Imprint: Ep. 13, Masters of Horror (2006) – While not really a full-length movie and was actually produced for a TV series, this film was never released for TV due to its extremely graphic and disturbing content. I bought the DVD sometime in 2010 in Makati Cinema Square during my Twilight fan-girling days, because the DVD cover showcased a wolf under a crescent moon. I thought the title had something to do with werewolves’ primal need to form attachments after first phasing, a process which was interesting to me.
The movie had nothing to do with werewolves whatsoever (thank you, Makati Cinema Square). Instead, I was treated to about 75 minutes of the most depraved imagery I had ever wanted to unsee. From the same country that brought us The Ring comes a story set in Japan, where a foreign man’s search for his lost lover led him into the annals of period Japanese prostitution and the nature of perverted human souls. Most of the story is a flashback of his lady love’s life in the poorest outskirts of rural Japan and the events which led to her circumstances.
Treat yourself to the weirdest torture scenes ever depicted on film, and one of the strangest plots. You will find yourself cringing most of the time, and wanting the movie to end because you’re sure you already know what will happen anyway, but morbid fascination will make you hold on to the very last scenes – and it is worth the wait, because it is not at all like you expected – it is even more chilling.
Patient Seven (2016) – (Warning – contains spoilers) I am huge fan of the whole Hannibal Lecter franchise. I’ve read all the books, seen the movies, and am still working my way through the recently-cancelled series. So when I read the synopsis for Patient Seven, a movie about a brilliant psychiatrist who needed to interview six of the most severely ill and dangerous patients at a mental hospital, I thought I would be in for another innocent psychological thriller. The draw of course, was finding more about the eponymous seventh patient, which came at the end.
Enter the child who murdered her own mentally-ill mother because the latter kept seeing “it” – a demonic creature that was always hiding in the dark or lurking behind shower curtain. Meet the girl who came up with mischievously brilliant plans to earn money to buy a shovel. Learn about a hidden cult of vampires who can walk among humans during the day, and not the kind that sparkles under the sun either. What is truly disturbing about these stories, and the over-all plot in general, is that it makes you doubt your own reality, and really fearful that it might be taken away from you.
Let the Right One in (2008) – This is probably a better-known franchise than the first two films, because they made a US-audiences-friendly version in 2010 starring Chole Grace Moretz. Also, unlike the case of the first two movies, I knew exactly what I was getting myself into when I downloaded it. I had read the book by John Ajvide Lindqvist from which it was based, but I had bought the copy when it first hit the best-sellers list because I thought it was a heartwarming story about friendship and coming of age. Which it was, in a way, but not in the warm and fuzzy kind of way I was used to in these types of stories.
Nevertheless, seeing this chilling tale of a pre-pubescent vampire’s struggle to just survive on screen was a completely different experience altogether. The book allows you to stay in the mind of the main human character, a young boy who befriends a mysterious new neighbor, a girl who never gets cold and does not sleep. It is easy to remain sympathetic to the protagonist and his strange friend, when you’re in his head a lot. The movie, however, forces you to also see the setting, and all the blood that is spilled in the wake of the vampire’s hungry rampage. I was left questioning my understanding of the novel, and nervously looking above me whenever I have to walk under a tree in the dark.
It’s Halloween! Have you come across lesser-known scary movies that have kept you up at night? Do you have any films lined up for tonight? Tell me about it in the comment section below.